Framingham, MA – Front-of-house engineer Chris Mitchell has been with jam band Umphrey’s McGee since 2011, manning the console as their U.S. tours stretch nearly year-round across the continent. “We tour all year long. Six weeks on, six weeks off, six weeks on, six weeks off,” he remarks. And as he points out, the band returns to several of the venues year after year, so it’s hard for Mitchell not to notice when a venue makes a significant sonic upgrade – like in the case of the Bose ShowMatch DeltaQ line array systems recently installed in the historic Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon, and House of Blues in Dallas.
He notes, “I’ve actually gotten the chance to mix the band on the ShowMatch system at these two different venues now, so I know the capabilities and character of the system pretty well, and we’re all very impressed with it. At the Crystal Ballroom, the change from the previous system is immense. On one side of the venue, there is a big glass wall that used to reflect the sound in an unfortunate way, but now the ShowMatch system is able to project the sound right up to the edge of the wall without reflecting off of it, resulting in a remarkable level of precision and clarity. A similar situation at House of Blues Dallas too – I’ve probably mixed 30 shows there over the years, for Umphrey’s and other bands – and wall reflections have generally been a challenge in the past, but now it’s tamed in a big way.”
In both venues, the ShowMatch system made Mitchell’s job easier: “I am used to coming in to a venue and putting in some serious time tweaking the EQs and settings in an intensive soundcheck, but ShowMatch offers something a lot more ready-to-go. In particular, the high-frequency section was smooth and detailed without being sharp and excessive, which makes a big difference in venues like these where reflective walls can take problematic high end in the mix and just amplify it.”
The band, technical staff and fans all reacted positively to these sonic upgrades at both venues. Mitchell notes, “We release recordings of every show, so the fans would definitely let us know very soon after the date if something wasn’t right. On the contrary – we got comments after the last Crystal Ballroom show, asking what we did differently to make the sound so improved. I said they got a new P.A., and everyone agreed that it has totally changed the vibe of the room for the better.”
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